The Journey of Dior’s New Look

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There’s no dearth of books on the development of Christian Dior’s “New Look,” but the latest tome from author Jérôme Gautier and Harper Design sheds light on the subject from an entirely new perspective. Monsieur Dior’s Spring 1947 collection was originally debuted under two names, “Corolle” and “Huit.” The never-before-seen nipped-in waists, voluminous skirts at altogether new lengths, and sexy busts caused the then Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Carmel Snow to exclaim, “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!” The collection’s name was forever changed—and so was women’s fashion. Simply titled Dior: New Looks, Gautier’s book uniquely explores how the spirit of this iconic silhouette has been honored and reinterpreted by every designer at the helm of the French house since Dior himself. “It’s the story of a man—Christian Dior—and a human adventure—the House of Dior,” says Gautier.

Seen through the eyes of master cameramen and women who have photographed the collections through the decades, the way that the book is ordered is also refreshingly unique. Driven by image rather than time, each double-page spread allows readers to cross-reference multiple Dior looks from varying periods to identify different unifying themes. “I decided not to follow a chronological approach because I wanted to give the reader the possibility to go back and forth between past and present, to confront today with yesterday,” explains Gautier. “I particularly enjoy presenting certain pieces next to each other, such as the Francis Poulenc dress by Christian Dior photographed by Norman Parkinson in 1950, facing one of Raf Simons’ very contemporary creations photographed by Willy Vanderperre in 2014. Even if these designs were created and photographed at very different periods of time, once placed next to one another, they show genuine symbiosis and reveal the Dior spirit.”

Gautier also touches on the ability of the New Look to withstand dramatic world events and influence an abundance of trends in creative fields other than fashion throughout the book. “My aim is to show that the strength of a couturier like Dior is to keep with its time,” concludes Gautier. With this and the recent departure of Raf Simons in mind, we look forward to seeing how the next phase of the New Look manifests itself shortly.

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